Do you ever feel like your life is a juggling act? You have to manage your work, personal life, your family’s expectations, other errands and chores, and all while continuing to do your best and work on yourself. It’s certainly no easy task, and it can be daunting to many people achieve a work-life balance.
Those who fail to juggle their responsibilities properly often find themselves exhausted, drained, and unable to meet any aspect of their life requirements suitably. Those who work too hard burn out and lose meaningful bonds and joys. Conversely, those who spend too much time relaxation wind up being unable to progress in their careers.
Of course, the solution is not to go to either extreme, but to learn to balance these different parts of your world, so they play well together. But how? Here are 5 effective ways to achieve a near-perfect work-life balance.
1. Determine What Your Priorities Are
You can have any work-life balance if you don’t figure out what you’re supposed to balance in the first place. This is where determining your personal priorities comes into play. What are your general priorities in life? What are your priorities at work? How about at home?
Everyone has a different set of priorities, and there’s nothing wrong with having ones that aren’t the same as many other people’s. All that matters is that your priorities work for you and get you where you want to go in life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you determine your priorities:
- What are the things most important to me?
- Which things are non-negotiable?
- What should I start doing?
- What should I stop doing?
- Which things should I continue doing?
- What should I do differently?
- What should I do more?
- How can I do less?
- How are these priorities serving me?
- Are these priorities skewed or accurate?
- How do I need to adjust my priorities?
2. Maintain Your Health
Work-life balance is quick to fall off-kilter when your health isn’t in order. Your physical and mental health needs to be in tip-top shape, or you’ll see the negative effects permeating your personal life, work, and free time. Here are some things to incorporate into your life that can help maintain your good health:
Regular exercise can have huge benefits on the body, from improving mood and positive thinking to boosting your life expectancy. Aim to exercise at least thrice weekly or to meet a total of 150 minutes of elevated heart rate a week.
You don’t have to maintain a perfect diet, but balanced meals with good nutritional value are ideal for your health. Make sure you eat breakfast every day to give you the energy you need to power you through the day. Believe it or not, research really does show that it’s the most important meal of the day – its quality can dictate your mental and physical health!
You should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night – never less and, ideally, not more. Sleeping too little can cause a huge number of health-related problems and lead to poor work performance and concentration issues. Sleeping too much can also have similar effects, believe it or not! According to studies, both extremes can increase the risks of obesity, cardiovascular issues, and similar problems.
· Avoid Vices
Vices like alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are often turned to when you’re tired and need some stress relief, but they’re just bad news. They increase stress levels in the long run and typically can have severe negative effects on the body. At the end of the day, these vices will only cause you damage.
Taking care of your health in these ways can seem simple and arbitrary, but the positive effects you gain are significant. For example, you get:
- A stronger immune system
- Higher energy levels
- Better productivity
- More engagement from your brain and body
- Improved mental clarity
- More positive mood
- Lower levels of stress
3. Learn To Say No
In this day and age, people are often expected to be yes-men who never say no and always take all opportunities that come their way. This can be quite a tiring way to live, as it never gives you a break that you likely need. But saying “no” when you’re not used to doing so can be a bit of a struggle. Here are some tips to help you on your way!
· Know Your Limits and Boundaries
Everyone needs boundaries, and people who say yes too often may have forgotten to set them up. Start being aware of how much you can put on your plate before you’re tiring yourself out and learn to stop accepting anything new once your plate starts filling up.
· Say “I Don’t,” Not, “I Can’t.”
The phrase “I can’t” isn’t substantial – it sounds like an excuse that challenges others to counter it. But with “I don’t,” you’re conveying a clear message about where your boundaries lie. Does it seem arbitrary? Maybe. But people have more positive results saying “no” when they say “I don’t,” as it simply gets intentions across more clearly.
· Be Assertive
Others might try to push you into changing your mind – don’t let them! Caving into these requests tells others that your decision can shift if they push you hard enough. Don’t let that be what they learn about you! Instead, be clear and decisive. Better yet, don’t be afraid to be just as pushy as those demanding something out of you!
· Offer Explanations
You don’t really owe anyone an explanation for saying “no,” but it might help you feel happier with your decision if you soothe their disappointment for those closest to you. Provide a clear, honest explanation of why you’re unable to be of any assistance at this moment and, if it’s something you’re capable of doing, offer to make it up to them in the future.
Things can get very hectic when you’re a go-getter with a lot of work to do. But don’t forget to set aside a little time every day for yourself, enjoyment, and things that don’t work. Filling up your days with nothing but tasks can drain your energy, ultimately resulting in burnout and difficulty continuing your efforts.
But what kind of time should you allocate? Here are some ideas:
· One Hour To Yourself
Dedicate one hour every day to yourself and your me-time. During this space, you can do absolutely anything you want as long as it is not-work related. Read a book, participate in a hobby, learn a new skill, do some self-reflection, pamper yourself… the possibilities are endless! Over time, you’ll be improving yourself and making sure you get some rest time so you can return to work fully refreshed. The best part? Instead of always saying you never have time, you’ll always have a little bit of time every day to spare!
· One Thing You Love
It is a similar concept to the previous idea, but for those who truly have even less time than to spare. Take some time to do one thing that you genuinely love and make it a habit to do that thing simultaneously every day, for the same duration, over a prolonged period to form a habit. It can be absolutely anything you like – reading, meditating, watching a show, cooking, playing with pets… again, the possibilities are endless.
· Family Time
If you live with family – whether your parents, a spouse, and children, or even found family – then it’s a good idea to set aside time for them every day. Yes, your work is important, but your loved ones are even more so. Let’s put it this way – no one, on their deathbed, ever wishes they spent more time at the office. Your family and loved ones are the people who matter most to you and will fulfill you so much more than any material objects ever will. Try to remember that!
5. Have Limits And Schedules
Achieving a perfect work-life balance requires structure and, at first, strict monitoring. Over time, this will become more natural to you, and you won’t need to stick to a firm, rigid schedule to maintain balance. For now, though, it’s a good idea to properly outline personal limits and create a schedule that helps you stay true to your boundaries. Here are some tips for doing that:
· Make Schedules Based On Tracked Time
First, determine how much time you spend on different tasks. Then, arrange the tasks you absolutely have to do on a reasonable schedule for the week. Then, sprinkle in your personal me-time and non-work appointments. Finally, if you like, you can add any additional non-crucial work tasks to fill in the gaps here and there. Sure, you can’t always follow a timetable directly, but it certainly helps to have a guideline.
· Don’t Bring Work Home
Work is meant to be done in one place – your work environment. It’s a bad idea all around to start bringing it out of the office with you. Once work infiltrates your free time, your home, and the rest of your life, you’ll find it very hard to leave it behind again. Have trouble putting work out of your mind once you’ve clocked out? Schedule something for post-work hours, such as going to the gym, meeting a friend, or running some non-work-related errands. This will form a transitional period that allows you to move from work to the rest of your personal life in a smooth, unforced manner.
· Set And Communicate Your Boundaries
What are some aspects of work and life that are important to you? How can you protect them? Set up your boundaries and then inform those involved, if applicable, about them. These boundaries can include not checking work emails while at home, not working overtime unless there’s an emergency, or setting up an hour on non-work days to catch up on extra work from the week.
Work-life balance can be tough to achieve. Still, it’s possible to set your priorities well, take care of your health, learn how to say “no,” allocate enough me-time to yourself, and schedule out your time. It can be a little overwhelming, but keep your positive thinking! You’re more than capable of finding ways to walk that fine but important line!